Holiday Style with Marie Claire

Well, it is officially the Holiday Season and that means it's time to think "holiday wardrobe"! There are so many events, parties, and gatherings to dress up for this time of year and one of my go-to sources for Holiday fashion inspiration is Marie Claire. It's filled with refreshing new styles, inspiring editorial content, fashion coverage, and how-to guides. Marie Claire keeps it's readers up to date on the most important seasonal trends from which you can create your own beauty and fashion looks. It's one of my go-to's because it speaks to a modern and classy woman with styles that reach far beyond the pages of a magazine. It's a resource for fashion trends, tips, and must-have pieces and is a constant guide in my own fashion choices.

This outfit for instance, was inspired by an editorial and beauty ad that I found within the pages of Marie Claire. In the December issue there is an article about one of the contestants from Project Runway- Ashley Nell Tipton (pg. 110), where she shares some of her own designs that are so perfectly feminine I couldn't help but recreate my own version. Her designs embrace womanly curves and are beautifully accessorized with a floral crown; so when I happened upon this dress, it felt like it had fallen right out of the pages of my magazine. There were also some stunning beauty ads inside the December issue of Marie Claire, which inspired my hair and makeup for this look.

dress- nordstrom (similar)
clutch- borrowed from brandi / marloe
tights- nordstrom
shoes- nordstrom
bracelets- c/o lemon drop boutique
ring- c/o prismera

I'm so looking forward to all of the festivities this Holiday Season, and now I feel like I can look my best with the help of Marie Claire and the inspiration found in its pages. Whether it's a casual night in or a fancy night out, Marie Claire has got you covered! What are some of your sources for style inspiration?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Pikes Peak Cog Railway // Cross-Country Road Trip Pt. 10

Pt. // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9

Next up on the list of things to do in Colorado Springs was the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. This is something that had been on my list for years and I was going to go no matter what. I had heard all about the railway and how it's such a fun way to reach the top of this 14,000+ ft peak. And how at the top there's a lodge that serves world famous apple cider donuts. If anything, I was going for the donuts.

Now, what really happened on this trip is a long and annoying story about how I couldn't handle the elevation (after living at sea level for a year and a half), the only pictures of my dad and I being ruined because I forgot to change back my camera settings after taking some indoor pictures, and how there were actually no apple cider donuts because of a broken machine... I originally wrote all of that out, but I deleted it after I realized that despite all of that, it was still a great experience and I was able to check the box next to "Pike's Peak Railway" in my adventure log.

Have you ever taken the Pikes Peak Railway? Even though my experience wasn't the greatest, it wasn't the railway's fault, and I sincerely recommend it to all!


Digital Christmas Cards

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #eHolidays #CollectiveBias

photo from a couple years ago by Jenisse Photography

I've always loved receiving Christmas cards from friends and family; it's a fun way to see what everyone has been up to throughout the year. Since I don't have a family of my own and use social media quite a bit, I've never sent my own Christmas cards. But this year, I decided to send at least one to my family in Maryland. I miss them a lot since I've moved and I wanted a little something to say "thank you". So, using TheGiftCardShop.com, I put together a personalized digital Christmas Card and video greeting.

TheGiftCardShop.com allows you to personalize your Greeting Card with videos, photos, and sounds. You can also include a gift card to their favorite shop which adds just that extra touch of thoughtfulness. TheGiftCardshop.com gives you the option to send all of your cards for free digitally (no stamps or envelopes needed) or if that's not your thing, they also offer paper cards. When you choose the digital option, you can make your greetings months in advance and schedule them to deliver whenever you wish. They've got a bunch of beautiful designs to choose from, all of which are made by designers and hand lettering artists.

I had so much fun creating my greeting card, I decided to include the step-by-step process in this post. And since I couldn't include the actual card in my blog post, I have posted my video below for you to enjoy.

Step 1: Upload your photo(s) to the front of your card. I went with this photo from a couple years ago. Guess it's time I get some new Christmas-y photos taken...

Step 2: Customize the inside of your card by adding a personalized message, gift card, and video or sound. I decided to include a message, video (above), as well as a gift card to Amazon.

Step 3: Choose your envelope style.
Step 4: Approve your design before sending it off.

TheGiftCardShop.com has a couple promotions running right now that are a great way to save while giving to others. Promotion 1 runs from November 9-15. When you purchase a $100 eBay gift card from their site you'll receive a free personalized greeting card. Just enter the code "FREECARD" to receive one free greeting card while supplies last (limit one per customer). Promotion 2 runs from November 16-22. When you purchase a $100 eBay gift card from their site you'll receive a $5 eBay gift card while supplies last (limit one per customer).

Who would you send a greeting card from TheGiftCardShop.com to?


Friends and Neighbors Gift Idea // Mason Jar Candle DIY

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EasyGifts#CollectiveBias

Throughout the year we all experience a range of emotions and circumstances. Sometimes, or often, we make mistakes and have to apologize or pick ourselves back up, again. It's amazing how much can change in one year. You can move, change jobs, get married, leave a relationship, start a new one, take a vacation, get a dog, etc. Sometimes, even your groups of friends change. But the holidays are about love, gathering with friends and family, and reconnecting with those people who maybe fell out of your lives.

I have a friend like that. One who I am so close to, but for one reason or another, we have lost contact. Sometimes it's ok to lose contact with someone, if they're not one who makes you a better person. But this isn't the case. This is one where I need to take the holidays as an opportunity to reconnect and bring them back into my life.

To break the ice and let this friend know I'm thinking about them, I decided to put together this little gift box. The theme for this gift is "Stay Warm & Cozy", because all of the pieces to this gift, that I purchased at Target, will keep their family warm and cozy during the colder months. I was sure to include a few items that they could snack and sip on while they're staying inside on these cold winter nights; including- Swiss Miss hot chocolate, Reddi-Wip, Orville Redenbacher's popcorn, and some Slim Jim Jerky (follow each of those links for a 30% off Carwheel offer valid 11/26-11/28). Perfect items to keep you warm, plus they cover the basics- sweet, salty, and savory.

To put this gift together here is what you'll need:

A box, basket, or crate
Linen to line your box with
Tissue Paper to fill the extra spaces
Pinecones- I chose the cinnamon kind so that the gift experience starts as soon as they smell them
A blanket, rolled and tied with a ribbon
Socks for each member of the family
A homemade touch- I chose to make a Mason Jar Candle. Instructions are below...
Swiss Miss hot chocolate
Orville Redenbacher's popcorn
Slim Jim jerky

Line your box with the linen to keep everything dry and warm. Add your blanket as it needs the most space, then start to arrange the other items. I stuffed some tissue paper in the bottom so that things wouldn't get lost and everything could be seen. Top it off with your cinnamon pinecones so that as soon as your recipient opens the door, they are greeted with the smell of the holidays.

Now for the candle DIY. Turns out, it's pretty easy! You'll need...

Mason Jar
Block of Wax
Cutting Board
Candle Melting Bags
Hot Glue Gun
Liquid Measuring Bowl w/ a pour spout
Essential Oils for fragrance

First, fill your pot about half way with water and bring to a boil. While the water is warming, place your wax on a cutting board and cut it into chunks. (unless yours fits into the bag and pot without this step) Place the wax into the melting bag and secure it. Once the water has begun to boil, place the bag into the pot. Let it sit on about medium-high until all of the wax is melted.

While that is working, use your hot glue gun to glue the wick to the bottom of the mason jar. Then secure the wick to a pencil and place the pencil across the mouth of the jar. This will keep the wick from falling into the wax before it solidifies. When your wax has melted, place the bag in your liquid measuring bowl and quickly add your essential oils for scent.

Pour the wax out of the bag and into the bowl, then pour it into the mason jar, avoiding the pencil, until it reaches the top. Quickly wipe out the bowl so that it doesn't get ruined from the wax (do not pour the wax down the drain)! Leave the pencil in place while the wax solidifies, you don't want the wick to move around. Once it has cooled, trim the wick to about half an inch above the candle, place the lid on, and gift!

Note: it will take quite while (hours) to cool. Leave it alone so that you don't cause the wax to fall or shift.

Now you've got a gift that's ready to go to it's new home and it has something for everyone; including a personalized and homemade touch from you. Bonus, you can visit your local Target the weekend after Thanksgiving to sample a cup of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate! What a perfect way to do some holiday shopping.

What would you put into your gift box and who would you gift it to?


Winter Wonderland Party // Bake In The Fun

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BakeInTheFun #CollectiveBias

I remember a time when snow didn't bother me, a time when I actually enjoyed it. But as I've grown up, I've become cynical about the snow. I complain and wine and winter seems to last forever. So I decided to do things a little differently this year. Since the snow is well, inevitable, I decided to throw a party to celebrate. This is my "Welcome Snow" or "Winter Wonderland" party, and I really think it helped. I remembered how beautiful the snow is and that there are some really great things that come with the colder weather (like being warm and cozy inside and dusted pine trees). The party included things like sheep skin lining the chairs for extra warmth, sparkling cider in glasses rimmed with edible glitter, snow flakes hanging from the ceiling, fake snow dusting the table, and of course I couldn't forget my party must have- M&M's® White Peppermint, M&M's® Hot Chocolate, and M&M's® Holiday Peanut.

For this party I wanted to create a beautiful cake as my centerpiece. It was something I had never tried before (pretty sure this is my first layered cake) and I figured now was a good time to go for it. I used Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Holiday Cake Mix (because if I'm going to use a cake mix, it's gotta be Pillsbury™ Funfetti®!), along with the Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Holiday Vanilla Flavored Frosting. It made baking this cake a cinch and I was so happy with how it turned out!

To decorate the cake I wanted to do something a little different. I dusted the top of it with some edible glitter to look like snow, but the highlight of the cake was definitely my chocolate trees that I decorated with red ornaments using M&M's® White Peppermint. These chocolate trees were so much fun to make and so easy. (see instructions below) 

On top of the cake, I also decided to make some White Hot Chocolate. This was a perfect addition to the party and something that I hadn't seen done but had always wanted to try. The white went right along with the Winter Wonderland theme and it tasted great! I also topped the drinks off with an M&M's® White Peppermint as a cherry.

I was able to purchase all of my recipe items at Walmart which made it so easy to do a one-stop shop.  Plus, you can use this COUPON to save!

To add some more fun to this party post, you can enter to win 1 of 8 KitchenAid® mixers by voting on your favorite photo/ recipe below.
Holiday #BakeInTheFun

Chocolate Trees Recipe

M&M's® White Peppermint
Melting Chocolate/ Chocolate Wafers
Frosting Bag and Medium Sized Tip
Wax Paper
Baking sheet

This is the easiest DIY and it's also such a fun way to dress up your holiday recipes! Simply melt the chocolate in the microwave using the instructions on the bag. Be sure to stir it throughout the melting process. Prepare your baking sheet while the chocolate is melting by covering it with a layer of wax paper. Once it's melted, use a spoon to scoop it into your frosting bag. To keep things a bit cleaner, fold the top edges of your bag down. The chocolate will probably start flowing out the tip of the frosting bag the second it's inside, so just hold it horizontally over your bowl of chocolate until you're ready. Make sure there are no air bubbles then begin making your trees.

I started at the bottom of the tree trunk, made my way up then down one side of the tree, back up the middle, then down the other. After you've made as many trees as will fit on your pan, place it in the freezer. Keep your bowl of chocolate warm and use it to "glue" the M&M's® White Peppermint ornaments on when the trees are strong enough to hold their weight.
Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Holiday Cake Recipe

2 Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Holiday Cake Mix
2 Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Holiday Vanilla Flavored Frosting
Cake Dowels
Serrated Knife
Frosting Spatula

This is the easiest cake that I've ever made. Simply follow the instructions to make the Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Holiday Cake Mix and bake them in 8 inch rounds. You should have four layers when you're through, but you'll only need three (unless you can take on a four layered cake. I was too scared). When the cakes are done baking, place them on a cooling rack or tea towel to cool. Let them cool completely before you begin the next step.

Using your serrated knife, cut the rounded tops off of the cake. You want them to be flat on top so that they fit and stay together. Then, place your first layer on a hard flat surface (I used a small cutting board), and add a somewhat thin layer of frosting to it's top. Then place your second layer on top and repeat until you have all of your layers in place. Next, place your cake dowels into your cake to keep it from sliding apart. I used some skewers I had laying around and then cut them down to size.

Now, this next tip came from my sister who decorates cakes for a living, and I'm pretty sure it made all the difference. Add a thin layer of frosting all over the cake, filling in spaces between the layers; it doesn't have to look pretty, then place it in the fridge. Keep it there until the frosting has become "crusty" then remove and add your desired amount of frosting. The "crusting" step made the top layer of frosting go on smooth and easy. Then simply place it on your cake stand and add your cake decorations. 

White Hot Chocolate Recipe

6 c Great Value Milk (gallon)
2 c Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tbsp Vanilla
1 pkg White Chocolate Chips

In a large pot, add your Great Value Milk, whipping cream, vanilla, and white chocolate chips. Warm it up over Med-Low heat and don't stop stirring. The chocolate will want to stick to the bottom of the pot, so it's important to keep it moving. Once the chocolate has melted and the mixture starts to bubble/ boil, it's ready. Simply pour it into your glasses/ mugs, add some whipped cream, and top it off with an M&M's® White Peppermint.

To add a little something extra to my party, I wanted to give each guest a mason jar snow globe. They're easy to make and allow your guests to take the welcoming winter spirit of your party home with them.

Mason Jar Snow Globe DIY

Mini Mason Jars
Mini Pine Trees
Fake Snow
Liquid Glycerin
Distilled Water
Your Choice of Strong Glue

On the inside of your mason jar lids, glue down your winter scene. My mom swears by using multiple kinds of glue to make things a bit stronger. Let the glue dry for a few hours (just to be sure). Add a tablespoon of snow to your mason jars, a dash of liquid glycerin, and then fill them with distilled water- leaving a small pocket of air. Place your lids on tightly, then flip upside down so the lid is on the bottom. The snow will float for the first day or so, but after it has soaked in the water it will eventually sink and become the snow globe you intended. (see my old DIY for this HERE)
Not only did my recipe items like Great Value Milk and M&M's® White Peppermint make for a great party, but they also offer you a chance to give back this season. When you purchase 2 bags of M&M's® at Walmart, up to a gallon of milk will be donated to The Great American Milk Drive and it will be delivered to a family in need in your area. This is a wonderful opportunity because even though milk is in high demand and many families are missing out on its nutrients, milk is not typically donated to food banks. So join in the cause to feeding America in The Great American Milk Drive, the first ever program to help deliver highly desired and nutrient-rich gallons of milk to hungry families who need it most. You can also go HERE to donate directly to the drive.

This was such a fun and low key party with delicious food and beautiful decorations. I now feel ready to welcome the winter season with open arms! You can check out more holiday baking recipes HERE; what's your favorite holiday recipe?
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